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Researchers crack the code of the common cold
Date:2/21/2009

tute for Molecular Virology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, notes, "As we begin to accumulate additional samples from a large number of patients, it is likely that hotspots for mutation or recombination will become apparent, and other regions resistant to mutational change may emerge. This will provide clues as to how flexible the virus is as it responds to the human environment, important hints if you are designing new therapeutics."

Study background

Human rhinovirus infection is responsible for half of all asthma attacks and is a factor in bronchitis, sinusitis, middle ear infections and pneumonia. The coughs, sneezes and sniffles of colds impose a major health care burden in the United Statesincluding visits to health care providers, cost of over-the-counter drugs for symptom relief, often-inappropriate antibiotic prescriptions and missed work dayswith direct and indirect costs of about $60 billion annually.

Prior to the start of this project, the genomes of only a few dozen rhinoviruses had been sequenced from what was considered the reference library, a frozen collection of 99 different rhinovirus strains taken from patients over a span of more than two decades. During this team's work, several other groups began to report the full genomes of some of these viruses, as well as some odd rhinovirus-like strains from relatively sick patients.

"It was clear to us that the spectrum of rhinoviruses out there was probably much greater than we realized. Further, we needed to develop a framework from which we could begin to figure out ways to combat these viruses and use their genetic signatures to predict how a specific virus would affect a patient," says Dr. Fraser-Liggett.

The current study adds 80 new full genome sequences to the rhinovirus library and 10 more acquired recently from people with colds. Each sequence was modeled and compared to each other. Dr. Liggett says, "Now we can put together many pie
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Contact: Bill Seiler
bseiler@umm.edu
410-328-8919
University of Maryland Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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